William Freeman “Billy” Brown

1884 - 1972

 William Freeman “Billy” Brown was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick on February 20, 1884.  He was the son of Grace (nee Mountain) and James Cumming Brown.      

The late 1920's to the early 1950's became the golden era for fly tiers and their creations of new and different patterns.  One of the pioneers in the trade, was the late W.F. “Billy” Brown, on the famous Northwest Miramichi River.

 

William Freeman “Billy” Brown Tying Flies

William Freeman “Billy” Brown with a Cover of Fully Dressed Salmon Flies 

“Billy” Brown with Hubert Sinclair and the Echo Beach 1963

Mr and Mrs Bill Brown

     “Billy” Brown still tying the Classics in later years

As a young boy Billy delivered papers for Max Aitken who published the paper in Newcastle.  At the age of 14 he was driving horse and delivering mail to Red Bank and Quarryville, New Brunswick.  Later, he drove a horse and wagon that delivered sports to fishing camps on the Northwest Miramichi.  It was at that time that he developed a keen interest in fly-fishing. 

 

 

As the years passed he worked as a shipper for a local wholesale grocery outlet.  In the following years, he operated a market garden during the summer months and tied flies during the winter.  During the evenings he would also make and repair fishing rods.

Billy Brown started tying flies in 1904.  He was not just a fly tier; he was an outstanding fly tier.  He perfected the tying of fully dressed feather-wing patterns and was a master of the hair-wing patterns.  Just to mention only one of his creations, the “Echo Beach”, was originated in the 1940's.  Billy fished extensively with it on the Northwest branch of the Miramichi, his favourite river. Billy Brown tied hundreds and hundreds of fully dressed salmon flies.  The preserved photographs of his work are proof of the ability and quality that this man possessed as a fly tier.  Case upon case of his flies were bought and delivered to the American sport camps on the Northwest Miramichi, and many more cases were sold to Americans in New England.  Although many of his flies are gone, we have been able to retain some used samples of his work. These, along with rare photographs, support the fact that W. F. “Billy” Brown was probably one of the best, if not the best, Atlantic salmon fly tier in the province of New Brunswick from the early to mid-1900's.  Until recently, there had been little attention given this man for his work in the realm of fly tying, even though he had been well established by our friends to the south.  He was recognized as a specialist in the art of fly tying in Arnold Gingrich's Book “The Well Tempered Angler.”  He was also featured in several other prestigious American magazines.  A positive side to all this is that we can finally recognize William Freeman “Billy” Brown as a true artist in the art of fly tying and give appreciation to another wonderful Miramichier.

  

The photo of this fully dressed Jock Scott was taken from the original fly by by Dewey Gillespie in 1996.  The fly was tied by “Billy” Brown for his son the late Lloyd Brown of Miramichi, N.B.

 It is for certain that any fisherman who fish the Northwest Miramichi River, and talk fly tying to the senior residents, are told about Billy Brown.  Everyone loved and respected him.  When they talk about him, you can hear a tremor in their voice and see a tear in their eye.  This is their way of saying that he is dearly missed.                   Billy loved a good fish story.  At his farm house kitchen on the Chaplin Island Road was where many a yarn was told about fishing.  His wife once remarked, “There were more fish caught in the kitchen than there were in the river.”

On October 12, 2001 William Freeman “Billy” Brown was inducted into the Atlantic Salmon Hall of Fame at the Atlantic Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick

  

Origin of the Echo Beach

By W.F. “Billy” Brown

 

In the late 1940's, a well-known former Miramichi resident, E. Hubert Sinclair returned to Newcastle, New Brunswick from Arizona, U.S.A.  With him, he brought a salmon fly that he found on the beach near Echo Cliffs.  He gave the fly to his close friend, W.F. "Billy" Brown, a well-known fly tier in the Northwest Miramichi River area.  Hubert asked "Billy" to tie some flies similar to the one he'd found.  The fly was tied and when Hubert came back to get it, Billy asked Hubert what the name of the fly was.  "It doesn't have a name", said Hubert.  He told Billy he found the fly on Echo Beach. "Well, that's what we'll call it," said Billy. That's how this salmon fly got its name.

            Over half a century has passed since the fly was created.  It still remains very popular, especially with the fishermen on the Northwest Miramichi River.

Echo Beach By Jerome Molloy

 

Echo Beach

Head:                      Black

Tip:                         Fine oval silver tinsel

Tag:                        Yellow floss

Tail:                        Golden Pheasant crest

Butt:                       Red wool

Body:                      Oval silver tinsel

Wing:                     Skunk hair arranged in small bunches as follow: Black over yellow over white

Collar:                    Black hackle

#10 Echo Beach tied by Billy Brown

   

 

 

#10 Jock Scott 

 #8 S.T. Dose  

#10 Silver Doctor

#10 Dusty Miller  

#6 Abe Munn Killer   

 #10 Silver Grey

#6 Jock Scott     

Perleys Special

 

 

 

 

 All the above flies tied by Billy Brown except for the last one which is the Perley’s Special, originated by Billy Brown but tied by W.F. “Budd” Kitchen

 The S.T. Dose was originated by Billy Brown also

  

 Boxes of fully dressed patterns tied by Billy Brown